The Continent of Dorina
Dorina

A brief note about this article

The main reason I have never written about the special effects I use in my maps before now is because they have to be applied differently on each new map I draw. Differences in map style and the random variability of the way I chose to warp the colour scheme each time have made it very hard to nail down any particular method to the point of there being a right or a wrong way of doing it, and it’s nearly impossible to make a definitive set of instructions when nothing is set in concrete. I have often used similar combinations of effects on similar sheets in different maps once I discovered a useful result by experimentation, but I don’t think I have ever used exactly the same settings on any two maps. So what follows is more a train of thought and an explanation of my method as I develop two example maps of the same place in two different styles in tandem. However, and having said that, there are a few simple instructions on how to generate and process sea contours in the first of the special effects to be described.

This article focuses on two versions of the continent of Dorina shown above in the Mike Schley style (MS) and the Herwin Weilink style (HW). I have chosen these styles because they are available to all CC3 mappers, and because they are so different in nature that the special effects will have to be applied differently to each one. By describing this process and providing the finished FCW files for reference purposes, I hope that those of you who have requested tutorials about how to get similar special effects to mine in their own maps may at the very least gain some useful information and ideas.

The effects I will be working on in this article are oceanic contours, global colour shifts, contrast adjustments, snowfields and something I’ve called ‘midnight’, which entirely changes the nature of the map in a way that makes it vaguely reminiscent of a view seen under brilliant moonlight.

First off, then, I should probably start with the basic stuff – how much I have already warped the default styles to produce the initial maps before we get started on the special effects. Please note that for some reason I set the scale of these maps completely wrong, but it was too late to go back and start again by the time I got to the finishing touches. I didn’t realise until I was adding the scale bar and it was out by a very large factor.

Dorina - Mike Schley styleDorina – MS

The MS style is beautiful in its clean and radiant pastel colours. Unfortunately for me it is those very same pastel shades that make doing the kind of special effect I do quite difficult to achieve on an MS map. While I can appreciate the loveliness of many very different styles my personal taste tends more towards richer, darker colours. If you open the Dorina – Mike Schley.FCW file you will see that the sheets have been dramatically altered, so that while I tried very hard not to take it too far away from the intended appearance as to be unrecognisable as an MS map, I have used lots of Adjust Hue/Saturation and RGB Matrix effects. I have also swapped out some of the textures for others in the same set and changed their colours accordingly. I love the grassy texture of the Marsh_MS fill, and so I have abused it by using it for anything that is at all grassy in nature. There are other fills I’ve substituted, but even though I’ve bashed it about quite badly (and I cringe to think of what the purists would say) all the fills are MS fills and part of that style. There is nothing there that doesn’t come from the Mike Schley mapping style.

Dorina - Herwin Wielink styleDorina – HW

You might think the HW style is made for me, with my already stated preference for darker, richer colours, but my taste is less subtle and a couple of degrees lighter in tone. I have done exactly the same thing with the HW map as I’ve done with the MS style – lots of colour changing sheet effects aimed at making everything a little brighter than before. I haven’t swapped out so many of the fills, but I do very much like the grassland fill and I’ve used it in several shades on different sheets. There are couple of sheep and cows and a horse that remain from the MS version where there is no HW equivalent.

Continue reading »

We’re continuing Jay Johnson’s City Mapping article with the third and final part.

Adding Details

City with trees and paths in courtyardsLittle details add a great deal to a map. Look at these two images. The first is with trees and pathways in the courtyards. The second is without them. How much difference do these details make in your opinion? In my opinion, they make a big difference.

Shadows

Another detail you can work on is your shadows. I adjusted the shadow settings on my buildings so they intrude more into the streets. The places where the streets are covered in shadow creates a sense of danger and mystery, don’t you think.

The City’s History

City without trees and paths in courtyardsThink about your city’s history and include details that suggest a city that has evolved. Your city should have a nucleus (the original settlement) from which it expanded. Consider how this expansion took place and the different phases through which it occurred. Think about how your city has grown. If there were old walls, roads that ran beside them most likely now mark where they once were. Maybe sections of these walls still stand or roads pass beneath old gates that are located far from what is now the city’s perimeter. What other changes may have occurred as your city grew?

Some More Advanced Techniques

Let’s take a minute to talk about some more advanced techniques I have used. Some that require using other programs in conjunction with CC3+ and its add-ons. Continue reading »

Chinese Summer PalaceIn the past month, I have begun to release many of the custom tiles I use. And others have begun to join me. You can find this growing collection in the Master Mapping Tile Library.

But this begs the question… why invest time in making custom tiles? And how do you make ‘em in the first place? First up, let’s answer why custom tiles are worth the effort.

Custom tiles let you add a unique WORLD flavour to your maps. Different cultures in your world will have different aesthetics. Their buildings will not only be designed differently, but will be made of different materials used in different ways with different artistic flair. Consider the Chinese Summer Palace, Westminster Abby, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Villa Romana La Olmeda. As soon as you glance at any of these images, you are immediately transported to their culture – you know something about the people that made them. What they valued, how they viewed the world.

Westminster AbbeyBy mapping unique cultural aesthetics, you reinforce the game world and its peoples in a deeply effective way. This is true for fantasy settings, but also doubly so for science fiction! Think back to the classic TV series Babylon 5, where each species had its own ‘look’ that went all the way to their clothing and starship designs. Star Trek does the same thing. The style of these different cultures’ structures and architecture is a signature of the species itself. It conveys a lot about them.

For cartographers, this means that we can use the aesthetics of architectures we map to convey the culture that built them. And one of the most effective ways to do this is to use custom tiles. Or more specifically, sets of themed custom tiles.

Temple of Queen HatshepsutIn High-Space, we have dozens of alien species, each of which has a rich culture. The humans are techno-junkies, that favour chrome and cyber-circuitry plus carpets and lit metal panels. In contrast, their closest pals, the Phoxin, are bison-sized bio-smiths that favour organic spaces, with moist loam, algae blooms, and walls of living plant matter. The Psionic Soamata, having evolved on dry crystal-sand planes, favour delicate carved sandstone facades. And the grumpy iron bugs… well, heavy metal and rust would best describe their look.
Therefore, when I set out to create a set of battle maps in the High-Space universe, I first look at who built the location where the action will take place, and then set about selecting themes of textures that will match that culture.

Villa Romana La OlmedaIf I can find open-source tiles that match, great. If not, it’s time to crank up specialised art software and get to work…
Which brings us to the second question… how to make seamless tiles that work well with CC3+? While photoshop can help you create seamless tiles, I do not recommend it. Creating a tile with Photoshop is akin to pulling out your own eyes with a chopstick. It may be a cool party trick, but it’s painful and often result in things that are just ugly. Instead, I strongly recommend investing in a dedicated tool.

My tool of choice for this is FilterForge. It is a programmatic art package which is really designed for 3D modellers and digital artists. It is programmatic because it allows you to create your own ‘filters’ by wiring up small chunks of graphical algorithms to create a highly customable visual effect – in our case, seamless tiles.

FilterForge has a drawback. It is expensive. I mean, really expensive. The edition I use has a list price of US$828 (though you can get it for about $600 with special offers that they run frequently).
The good news is, they have a cheaper, less functional version for about US$150. The bad news is, that solution does not support 16 or 32 color, high-precision, hi-definition output. For an average map, that’s not a big issue. But if you are planning print-ready professional maps… well… you *may* notice the difference. But for 98% of us, it won’t be an issue.

The other limitation with the cheap version of FIlterForge is that you cannot customise the filters. But given that there are literally thousands of ready-made, freely downloadable filters, the inability to customise may not be that big an issue for hobbyists.

In short, if want to churn out lots of tiles are that are variations on a theme – which is the perfect scenario for us mappers – then FilterForge Standard at US$149 will be good enough most of the time.
If you don’t want the expense of making your own tiles, you can always grab some from the growing Master Mapper free community collection, here.

The next question is, how to design the tiles so they not only look good, but also PLAY WELL on the table.

When you design your tiles for a use with minis, always consider this rule: how will the tile’s texture ‘line up’ with the traditional 5f step grid for most games? Start by planning your tiles as 1200×1200 pixel images. Why 1200×1200? First of all, it is a standard size used by ProFantasy for hi-res files. Secondly, 1200 is a very flexible number – it can be divided by 2, 3, 4 and 6. Which means is can scale well as a repeating texture for many different mapping situations.

I make the assumption that my 1200×1200 pixel tile will fill a 10x10f space on my maps (or 3mx3m for sci-fi metric maps). This means each tile I create is a grid of four 5f steps. When designing the tile, I try to take into account that it will be aligned to a 5f grid, and I make sure that design enhances that grid, or at the very least does not clash with it. Check out my video on how to use the latest edition of FilterFilter to make tiles here.

Once you’ve made the tiles, it’s time to bring them into CC3+. The first thing to do is collect all the tiles of a similar theme into a single folder. Then move that folder of tiles into the CC3+ bitmap tiles folder. This can be a little tricky to find, depending on your computer’s setup. You can see how do this in the following video. The reason you put the files into this special folder is it ensure that your maps can be loaded onto other computers without incurring massive amounts of rework. Trust me. This little extra step now will save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Now fire up CC3+ and create a new map or load a map where you’d like to use your new tiles. Click on TOOLS and select Import Bitmap Fill Styles.

On the screen that pops up, make sure you have the “relative to CC3 path” set and click the Browse button to locate the folder where your tiles are located. Select and open any one tile in that folder.
Next check ‘Scaled” and then set the width and height for your tile to 10f.

Click on OK and bob’s your uncle – you’ve now added those fills to your map that you can use just like all the other standard fills. The part 2 video, above, shows you the entire process.

So, to summarize:

  1. Create groups of themed custom tiles to highlight the cultural aesthetics in your world.
  2. Consider using a dedicated texture / tile making solution, such as FilterForge
  3. Download sets of tiles from the Master Mapping Community Library, here.
  4. When creating your own tiles, make then 1200×1200 pixels and plan for them to be placed on your maps at 10fx10f scale (or 3mx3m scale for metric maps).
  5. Always move your files in folders under the ProFantasy Bitmap Tiles folder.
  6. Using the Tools – Import Bitmap Fill Styles function to get your tiles loaded into your maps.

Best regards, Joe

All images are by unknown authors, licensed under CC BY-SA.

Title CardWelcome to another detailed tutorial by Sue Daniel, looking at how you can create the shading for complex shapes – in this cased domed roofs. As the tutorial is fairly detailed we are providing it in pdf format for ease of access and printing.

Read the Creating Onion Domes tutorial by Sue Daniel.

About the author: Sue Daniel is active as a cartographer and artist both on the ProFantasy community forum and the Cartographer’s Guild. There, she has won 1 Lite Challenge and 3 Main Challenges, and just recently one of the annual Atlas Awards for most creative map in 2017. She has produced many beautiful art assets for CC3+ (such as the “Sue’s Parchments” Annual issue) and mapping in general that are free to use for anyone.

After Joe Sweeney’s and Tony Crawford’s tutorials we have now a third excellent and prolific YouTube channel. Josh Plunkett, who also administers the CC3+ Facebook community, provides an excellent set of starting tutorials for CC3+ and its add-ons. Check it out here:

PerinusaSeveral users over on the ProFantasy community forum have recently posted tutorials on various aspects of their map-making. These are wonderful resources for any mapper, and we are sharing them here for your convenience and ease of access.

Charley Wayne Robinson has a huge project going on, mapping his fantasy world in intricate detail. He discusses creating mountain ranges in a two-part tutorial, as well as creating rivers, and – a specialty of his – misty areas. You can download the pdfs from these links:

CliffsAndStreamsEver-industrious Shessar posted two excellent tutorials on drawing streams and cliffs in DD3 Battlemaps. Both are difficult features to depict on a static, 2d map, at least if you want to make them look really good, but Shessar shows you exactly how to accomplish that.

As always kudos and many thanks to our wonderful user community, and here especially to Charles and Shessar. You can find more user tutorials on the Profantasy website.

And here is another tutorial by ArgoForg, showing the detailed river work of his country-scale maps.

Selected EntitiesCC3 community member RA jacobs wrote a detailed article on Basic Select Techniques in CC3+ on his blog Funny Shaped Dice. Check it out, it is very informative and especially helpful for new users of CC3+.

Basic Select Techniques, Part 1
Basic Select Techniques, Part 2

Multiple MultipoliesHave you ever wondered how to create a cut-out in a CC3 polygon (a hole that allows you to see the entities underneath)? Ever struggled with using that most arcane type of entities: Multipolies?

Wonder and struggle no longer, Master Mapper Joachim de Ravenbel has written a new tutorial on the topic, which will teach you anything you need to know. On 15 pages he shows you the basics about the Multipoly entity, as well as full bag of tricks to make the most use of them. Thanks, for another great resource!


16_ChurchJoachim de Ravenbel has posted some awe-inspiring new maps on the community forum, showing off a technique to draw top-down dungeons in a perspective view.

And now he’s completed the first part of a tutorial that shows you how to do it. Check out his pdf tutorial here.


SkalderandCC3+ is only a few days out and we already have the first user tutorial on the community forum. Malmo3000 modified the new Mike Schley Overland style to create his Skalderand map depicted on the right, and explains his process in this tutorial. Here’s what he has to say:

I recently started drawing with CC3/CC3+. Despite other comments I've read in multiple forums the learning curve wasn't a big deal for me as beginner. In my opinion the most challenging part is to find a way of mapping and thus creating a "own" style that suits you the best. As some of you noticed already in my thread called "Skalderand [CC3+]" I've found my personal "style" of mapping. So I wrote a little step-to-step tutorial for myself to produce multiple maps within CC3+ with a consistent look. In here I use mostly basic stuff and nothing fancy so with the help of the manual you shouldn't have any trouble of following. I really hope this will help other beginners to CC3+ when coming up with their personal style.

Download Malmo3000’s Campaign Cartographer 3+ Tutorial

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